Gold Coast apprentice Jed Hodge storms home on Toby Edmonds-trained mare Flaming Aces to win the Christmas Cup (1200m) at the Clarence River Jockey Club.
Gold Coast apprentice Jed Hodge storms home on Toby Edmonds-trained mare Flaming Aces to win the Christmas Cup (1200m) at the Clarence River Jockey Club. Matthew Elkerton

Hodge holds all the aces in Christmas Cup win

RACING: A move closer to his partner Jordan's family has proved twice as nice for Jed Hodge.

At Grafton on Sunday the Gold Coast apprentice jockey rode his first winner for future father-in-law Toby Edmonds since becoming his apprentice.

Hodge did not panic despite giving up an early eight-length lead to Scott Cumming-trained lightweight Hide The Moon (Jodi Worley, $51) as he powered in to the post on board Flaming Aces ($7) in the First National Ford and Dougherty Christmas Cup (1200m).

It was a coming-full-circle moment for the apprentice and his six-year-old mare with Hodge on board for her first start for the Edmonds stable - a disappointing last at the Sunshine Coast.

First National Ford and Dougherty principal Rod Ford and CRJC chairman Graeme Green present winning trainer Toby Edmonds the CRJC Christmas Cup after Flaming Aces stormed home in the fourth during the Clarence River Jockey Club's annual Christmas Cup race day.
First National Ford and Dougherty principal Rod Ford and CRJC chairman Graeme Green present winning trainer Toby Edmonds the CRJC Christmas Cup after Flaming Aces stormed home in the fourth during the Clarence River Jockey Club's annual Christmas Cup race day. Matthew Elkerton

"I have been riding that mare for a while now in trackwork and she has really been improving nicely," Hodge said after the race.

"Her first ride back I rode her a the Sunny Coast and she ran dead last but she has really firmed up since then and it is showing now."

With pace in her legs the plan from Edmonds was to hit the front early, set the pace in the race, and hold off any would-be late challengers. But it was not quite how it panned out for Hodge.

"A couple of jockey's in the gates were saying to me you will want to just tuck her in nicely and I said look mate I am going straight to the front and leading from there," he said.

"The lady from outside had gone forward early and set a really nice pace but I wasn't going to chase her.

"There were no nerves kicking in, sectional wise she was going far too quick for that race. I just sat there at the front of the pack and you knew none of the other jockeys were trying to pass me so it couldn't have been too bad a position."

With 400m to go a gap split second gap opened right in front of the mare with Hodge guiding her out the other side to win by almost a length over Profiler (Ben Looker, $7) and Isla Poppy (Terry Treichel, $2.90 fav).

"We thought she would lead but the leader took charge of the rider and took off, but she chased it and did all the work and it was a strong finish," Edmonds said.

Christmas Cup winning trainer Toby Edmonds speaks to Sky Sports Gary Kliese after Flaming Aces stormed home to win the feature during the Clarence River Jockey Club's annual Christmas Cup race day.
Christmas Cup winning trainer Toby Edmonds speaks to Sky Sports Gary Kliese after Flaming Aces stormed home to win the feature during the Clarence River Jockey Club's annual Christmas Cup race day. Matthew Elkerton

It was an early birthday present for the

The 21-year-old apprentice was full of praise for his trainer and said working for his father in law was not as bad as the movies made it out to be.

"It is good to be honest," Hodge said. "I have always said to him 'I don't want to ride until you think I am ready to ride your horses'.

"I didn't want to ride his horses just because I am dating his daughter. I wanted that to sort of show to the other trainers and jockeys as well.

"He is willing to support me as long as I am willing to do the hard yards and that is what we are doing. I hope this is the first win of many."

Edmonds will now aim the in-form mare at the upcoming $40,000 Daniel Baker Sprint (1200m) on the rescheduled Coffs Harbour Gold Cup Day on December 9.

In other action at Grafton local trainer-jockey connection of John Shelton and apprentice Eric Cheung stormed home on equal favourite Mexican Mountain to claim the Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1700m).

Meanwhile jockey Ben Looker enjoyed an exceptional day at the track, saluting with three wins, two seconds and a third.

The full TAB results from the Christmas Cup race day will be in tomorrow's The Daily Examiner.



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